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Damien Warren-Smith - Garry Starr Performs Everything Interview

In 2018, following his scandalous dismissal from the Royal Shakespeare Company due to ‘artistic differences’, disgraced actor Garry Starr stepped onto the stage and defied his critics by performing every style of theatre imaginable, thus saving the performing arts from extinction. 
Since that hallowed day, his creator, Damien Warren-Smith has gone on to star in multiple award-winning shows and Garry himself has become a firm favourite with comedy and theatre fans with numerous sell-out UK shows at Soho Theatre, the Edinburgh Fringe, and across the world.
But true Garry fans may argue that his greatest accomplishment was when he first broke free of the shackles of ‘conventional theatre’ and did indeed ‘Perform Everything’, tearing through genres with little regard for personal safety and even less regard for art. And so now, for the first time in five years, Garry is bringing his original debut show back to the UK for a four -week run at Southwark Playhouse Borough playing now until Saturday 23rd December 2023

What can you tell me about your latest show ‘Garry Starr Performs Everything’? 
Garry Starr Performs Everything is the story of a disgraced (or unemployable at least) actor who takes it upon himself to single-handedly save the performing arts from extinction by performing every genre ever created. 

How do you reflect on your career to date and to where you are now? 
Having worked as an actor for the best part of two decades, the pivotal moment for me was retraining as a clown at the mid-way point and focusing more on creating my own work. As much as I enjoyed performing in plays, nothing makes me happier than making a room full of people laugh doing something I created. 

You touch on numerous styles; how did you decide to do so when developing the show? 
It grew from an idea I was playing around with while living in Berlin. I was doing the comedy/variety circuit and trying out lots of ideas and one day I landed on this notion that it might be fun to see an idiot attempt to perform every single type of art. It wasn’t until I teamed up with director Cal McCrystal that he encouraged me to narrow it down to just theatre genres. 

At what part of the process with a show do you (if ever) feel like you’ve gotten a complete show? 
The show felt complete almost from the first preview, but it never really feels finished. Due to a large amount of audience participation the show grows and changes every time I play it. We must be approaching 200 or more performances across three continents now and I’m discovering something new every night. 

You’ve performed internationally, do different audiences react in different ways? 
Americans love to give standing ovations. Australians enjoy getting involved in any way possible. The Brits are very reserved but also very playful when I bring them onstage. Norwegians are delightful. Swedes don’t even blink an eye when I get naked. Kiwis are desperate not to be confused with Australians. 

What keeps you inspired as an artist? 
I love playing fringe festivals and seeing what other artists are working on. Edinburgh is becoming increasingly expensive and unattainable for many people but it’s still a melting pot of creativity. I also draw inspiration from teaching clown to younger performers who constantly surprise and challenge me. 

What would you hope an audience takes away from seeing the show? 
With any luck people will come away with a lightness of heart, ripped abdominal muscles and sore cheeks. I’ve even been told it made people cry due to the (very subtle) tribute to my struggles with mental health. It really is the kind of show where people return 2 or 3 times and bring their friends and family which I think says a lot. 

Garry Starr Performs Everything is at the Southwark Playhouse daily (excluding Sundays) until the 23rd December 2023. Tickets available from:

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